The philanthropic arm of the fastest-growing fast-food chain in America, Chick-fil-A, announced Monday that it will no longer be giving money to the Salvation Army and would begin focusing its efforts almost exclusively on charities that focus on education, homelessness and hunger.
The President of Chick-fil-A, Tim Tassopoulos, told a commercial real estate newsletter, Bisnow, that the Chick-fil-A Foundation would no longer be funding organizations that are perceived as anti-LGBT after years of protests from gay rights groups.
“There’s no question we know that, as we go into new markets, we need to be clear about who we are,” Tassopoulos told the publication. “There are lots of articles and newscasts about Chick-fil-A, and we thought we needed to be clear about our message.
“When there is a tension, we want to make sure we’re being clear. We think this is going to be helpful,” he added. “It’s just the right thing to do: to be clear, caring and supportive, and do it in the community.”
The company said in a press release that it would end multi-year funding agreements that led to partnerships with such organizations like the Salvation Army, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Paul Anderson Youth Home. Instead of funding 300 charities as it did this year, it will focus on one charity in each of the three categories, including Junior Achievement, the Covenant House, and local food banks.
The company said it was “a more focused giving approach to provide additional clarity and impact with the causes it supports.”
Future recipients of funding “could include faith-based and non-faith-based charities,” it added.
Tassopoulos conceded to Bisnow that comments by its chairman, Dan Cathy, in opposition to gay marriage in 2012 and lingering perceptions about its position on gay rights because of its openly Christian ethos have cost it reputation-wise. Several U.S. airports have rejected Chick-fil-A concessions because of the controversy, and international expansion has struggled because of it.
LGBT activists took issue with donations by the company totaling $1.8 million in 2017 to the Salvation Army, the FCA and the Paul Anderson Youth Home, all of which are accused of being anti-homosexual. Chick-fil-A says it expects to hand out $32 million in donations in 2020.
Gay rights activists heralded the decision as a victory on social media on Monday.
THE GAYS HAVE WON. https://t.co/2HSf9u3KjN— Zach Stafford (@ZachStafford) November 18, 2019
The chicken sandwich chain is now the third highest-grossing fast-food chain in the United States, behind only McDonald’s and Starbucks, with $10.5 billion in annual sales this year.